Some of the big names in 70’s to 90’s B-action films go a different route in this surprising family film from cult film director David DeCoteau.
A van full of vacationers are set to go to a summer resort. However, when a mysterious fog appears, the group surprisingly finds themselves taking a turn to a very lavish summer house. The group consists of Dean and Sadie Johns, two workaholics who have taken their seventeen-year old son Andy with them; Constance and Molly, a pair of sisters who run their late parents’ catering business; and Bryan Ragland, a self-absorbed rocket scientist.
They meet Nanna, who gives driver Mike directions back to the resort. When Mike learns the resort had double booked the weekend, Nanna offers to have the guests stay with her and her husband, Pop. During the weekend, Pop becomes an ear for the guests, all who begin to slowly reveal their issues as to why they are on vacation and why they act the way they do. What happens when they learn that Pop and Nanna are actually revealed to be none other than Santa Claus and his wife, who just enjoying a summer off?
David DeCoteau is quite an interesting indie filmmaker whose work has been quite interesting with delving with horror, action, and erotic films. However, this is an attempt at a family film and there’s a certain spark that makes this work, just proving he has the chance to make a really emotionally driven dramedy that revolves around a group of people with issues and how the spirit of Christmas doesn’t have to resort to being in just the winter. For this film, DeCoteau uses the pseudonym “Mary Crawford” for this film.
What makes this film a notoriety is that the core cast is comprised of action stars who are given a chance to do something different. Any real fan would appreciate these action heroes doing something out of the norm. Chris Mitchum, son of Hollywood legend Robert Mitchum, plays Pop, who despite listening to everyone’s problems and attempting to help them, may have something else up his sleeve. Cynthia Rothrock plays his wife, who is just enjoying the ride as she cooks and is there to help Pop in his time of need.
Gary Daniels and Kathy Long, two former kickboxing stars who have made their mark in action films, play a workaholic couple that affects not only their marriage but their relationship with their son Andy, played by newcomer Elijah Adams, who serves somewhat as the opening and closing narrator of the film. Jessica Morris is the overbearing big sister Connie who doesn’t seem to care about her sister’s aspirations of being a photographer. From what it looks like, the character of Molly, played by Rachel Rothstein, as well as Andy are the two most level headed characters of the film, who not only believe, but as the youngest, have a much more ground of common sense than the others.
The film is both comedic and emotionally driven. There is an elongated game of croquet that shows how much that despite the drama, the cast can have a good time. However, there is the emotional drama, from working affecting life to the sisters losing their parents early to a secret involving our rocket scientist all comes to a head when a twist occurs that may make the viewer shed a tear and only hope the group can come together and bring happiness in their lives.
Santa’s Summer House is better than expected, showing that a cult filmmaker like David DeCoteau can do a family film and it works because as of late, he has delved in adding family holiday films to his filmography. Plus, it will give the viewer some of their favorite action stars in a positive different light. Definitely an underrated family film to watch.
WFG RATING: B+
A Rapid Heart Pictures production. Director: David DeCoteau. Producers: Marco Colombo and Kathy Logan. Writer: Andrew Helm. Cinematography: David DeCoteau. Editing: Danny Draven.
Cast: Gary Daniels, Cynthia Rothrock, Daniel Bernhardt, Kathy Long, Chris Mitchum, Elijah Adams, Jessica Morris, Rachel Rothstein, Yung Woo Hwang.